In baseball, as with most sports, there are unwritten rules of the game.
For instance, you should never talk to a pitcher when he is throwing a no-hitter, or don’t hit-and-run when the count is 0-2. When it comes to sportsmanship, there are debates galore on what is considered to be appropriate or inappropriate. One in particular that seems to have current and former players buzzing is the art, or disgrace for some, of bat flipping.
While bat flipping is not new to the sport, it has become more prominent in recent years among some of the sports rising stars à la outfielder Yasiel Puig of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper.
In case you are not familiar with the action of which I’m referencing, allow me to provide you with a clip of Puig and one of his signature bat flips:
(video courtesy of TBS Sports/YouTube User “LilCee354”)
As you can see in the video above, fans for the most part seem to enjoy it, as usually a bat flip follows when a batter knows the hit is a home run. But as fun as bat flipping can be, there have been instances where the action has caused quite the opposite effect.
A perfect example of this would be Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista’s “Bat Flip Heard ‘Round the World”. I’ll set the stage for you.
It was game five of the American League Divisional Series between the Jays and the Texas Rangers last year. With the score tied in the seventh inning at 3-3, Bautitsta launched a three-run rocket to take the lead, and the rest is, as they say, is history.
(Full clip of Bautista’s bat flip, and the craziness that followed. Video Courtesy of Fox Sports/YouTube User “Captain Canada”)
Since then, there has been somewhat of a line in the sand drawn between players.
Speaking out against Bautista’s bat flip, Hall of Fame and former New York Yankees relief pitcher “Goose” Gossage was quoted by ESPN’s Andrew Marchand as saying:
Bautista is a —-ing disgrace to the game,” Gossage told ESPN. “He’s embarrassing to all the Latin players, whoever played before him. Throwing his bat and acting like a fool, like all those guys in Toronto. [Yoenis] Cespedes , same thing.
Bautista took the higher road in response to Gossage’ criticism:
He’s a great ambassador for the game,” Bautista told ESPN after being informed of Gossage’s comments. “I don’t agree with him. I’m disappointed that he made those comments, but I’m not going to get into it with him. I would never say anything about him, no matter what he said about me. I have too much good stuff to worry about his comments. Today is my first game [of the spring], getting ready for a new season; hopefully, we will whoop some more a**.
Gossage was later quoted as stating
Everything is good,” Gossage told reporters. “I lost my mind for a minute.
Goose isn’t the only Hall of Famer who has an issue with this “new fangled” celebration. Per Mike Axisa of MLB.com, former Cincinnati Reds catcher Johnny Bench spoke out earlier this spring in regards to Bryce Harper flipping his bat, as well as Harper’s comments on how baseball has become a “tired sport”.
Below is a transcript courtesy of Randy Miller (NJ.com) and the Rich Eisen Show where Bench made the following statements:
You can flip your bat. We had guys do that … and the next time up there was chin music. And if you want to play that way, that’s fine.
“Bring back the excitement? OK, we’ll bring back the brushback pitch, the knockdown pitch. That’s all part of the excitement.”
“I know a lot of the old-timers and a lot of people who watched baseball forever would love to see somebody have a little chin music (as retaliation),” Bench said. “If you want to do that, fine. Flip the bat, run around any way you want, but just expect the next time you come up to the plate, you better watching how much you dig into that batter’s box.
It is not just players from the past who are commenting, though, as Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout was recently qouted saying “you will never catch him flipping his bat”.
This of course, is not to assume that Trout agrees with either Gossage or Bench, though the Halo’s outfielder is probably the poster boy for baseball purists.
On the other side of that previously mentioned line in the sand are veteran sluggers like Boston Red Sox designated hitter David “Big Papi” Oritz. In a recent interview with the Boston Globe’s own Alex Speier, Papi had this to say on the matter:
People want to talk about old school. I am old school,” said Ortiz. “How many [expletives] are in the game right now who played in 1997 in the big leagues?
“This game is competition. This ain’t no baby-sitting. There ain’t no crying. When somebody strikes me out, I’m not up there crying, like, ‘Boo-hoo . . . this guy’ . . . No, no, no. There’s none of that. There’s no babysitting in baseball. There’s no babysitting. If you’re going to take it like a baby, I’m going to take [you] deep again. How about that? Take it like a man and make better, quality pitches the next time I face you, and then you get [me] out, and then you do whatever the h— you want. This is competition.”
“Respect? Respect my [expletive]. I don’t have to respect nobody when I’m between those two lines. I’m trying to beat everybody when I’m between those two lines. This ain’t no crying. There’s no, ‘Let me be concerned about taking you deep.’ No.
As you can see, there are two schools of thought when it comes to bat flipping. This is certainly something worth keeping track of in 2016, as it will be intriguing to see who does or does not flip their bat.
I personally have no issues with athletes celebrating such things as home runs, slam dunks, slap shots, or touch downs. Of course, practicing humility every once and a while is good too.
That being said, I could not resist closing this post with a walk-off bat flip clip…Korean style:
(Video courtesy of YouTube User “mybonet”/www.mykbo.net)